What Does a Flight/Transport Nurse Do?
Flight nursing, or transport nursing, includes critical care, emergency medical services and disaster response services to patients prior to hospital admittance. They are highly trained medical professions that make life and death decisions very quickly. They must be able to work well in teams and react quickly to changes in patient and environmental conditions. These nurses can work with patients located in remote areas that can’t reach hospitals in time or disaster sites like car accidents and scenes of natural disasters. Flight nurses perform the necessary medical care while airlifting patients to safety and to the proper medical facilities. Some flight nurses can even travel with private patients that suffer from dangerous medical conditions during airline flights to ensure their safety. These nurses must also be highly skilled communicators as they act as liaisons between themselves and the awaiting medical crews on the ground. They should have expertise in mechanical ventilation, vasoactive medication, and other intensive care skills.
How Can I Become a Flight/Transport Nurse?
Typically, nurses that are interested in working in this field must hold an active license as a registered nurse and have proof of recent training in life support systems and experience working in emergency settings. To become a registered nurse, one must earn a two or four year nursing degree and pass the state licensing exam for RNs. After working for three to five years in an intensive care unit, critical care unit or emergency room, registered nurses can apply for the flight nurse program. Some programs also require nurses to possess Emergency Medical Technician-Basic or Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic certifications. Flight nurses can also become certified as Certified Flight Registered Nurses (CFRNs) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). This exam is computer based, contains 180 questions and generally takes around three hours to complete. Flight and transport nurses should also be in good physical shape, be agile and have a great deal of stamina.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Flight/Transport Nurse?
This is a growing field that has resulted from the increase in the aging population in the United States and natural disasters, like tornados, flooding, hurricanes and more. The outlook for all registered nurses in extremely positive as the nation is faced with a nursing shortage and there is not enough supply to meet the growing need. According to Salary Wizard, the average annual salary of a flight/transport nurse can range from $60,000 – $75,000 per year. This number will vary depending on one’s education, certification, experience level and geographic location. One of the most obvious drawbacks to working as a flight nurse is the dangerous conditions and environment one must work in. From repelling down a ravine, wading in icy waters, and flying through bad storms, these situations are far more dangerous than working in a hospital emergency room. But for some flight nurses, the adrenaline and challenge of the job can be a very rewarding aspect.